Another 60 Internet satellites flew into orbit early Wednesday on a Starlink Falcon 9 rocket from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida, the 25th spacecraft launch mission for SpaceX’s broadband network.
The Falcon 9 took off Wednesday at 4:28:24 AM EST (0828: 24 GMT) from platform 40 and was powered by nine main Merlin 1D kerosene engines. The rocket engines aimed the rocket northeast of Cape Canaveral with a thrust of 1.7 million pounds.
After bending through a high-altitude layer of cloud, the first-stage carrier dropped its booster and fired a second-stage motor to accelerate the sixty Starlink satellites into orbit.
Meanwhile, the 15-story booster made a targeted landing aboard a SpaceX drone ship stationed in the Atlantic and located 400 miles (630 kilometers) northeast of the Florida space coast. The landing pad returns to Port Canaveral for SpaceX to check the booster, regenerate it, and reuse it for another flight.
The booster, which was used for Wednesday’s mission and is referred to as the B1060 in the SpaceX fleet, has made its sixth flight into space and back since its debut last June. This was the 78th successful recall of the Enhanced Falcon since 2015.
The shell-like payload cover that covered the Starlink satellites was supposed to fall off in the first few minutes of the parachute flight to the Atlantic as the rescue ship wanted to restore the cruise halves to bring them back to Florida for renovation.
The second stage engines put the Starlink satellite stack into waiting orbit about nine minutes after launch. The missile crossed the Atlantic, flew over Europe and the Middle East, then restarted its engine to burn for a second over the Indian Ocean.
The rocket deployed 60 broadband flat-plate satellites just over an hour after the mission at 5:13 a.m. CET (0913 GMT) and penetrated this year’s SpaceX 9 Falcon 9 launch and the fourth since early March.
This was the 23rd launch of Falcon 9 to provide Starlink satellites. Two other missions carried Starlink payloads as secondary passengers.
SpaceX’s upcoming Falcon 9 is slated to launch in early April to launch another batch of Starlink satellites into orbit, continuing the fast pace of the missions.
The launch on Wednesday was Flight 120 of the Falcon rocket, 15 years after the day after the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket first launched on March 24, 2006. The Falcon 1 failed seconds after launch due to a fuel leak and an engine fire on the rocket is said to fall on an island in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific near the launch pad.
SpaceX has successfully completed 87 consecutive missions with its Falcon 9 and Falcon heavy rockets since a pre-launch explosion destroyed a rocket on an Israeli Israeli communications satellite in September 2016. Not to mention this incident, SpaceX has put together a series of 96 missions in succession, launched Falcon. Since the last flight failure at the end of the mission.
With the SpaceX launch on Wednesday, 1,385 Starlink satellites were launched into orbit in a series of Falcon 9 missions. Some of these satellites were prototypes, returned to the atmosphere, and burned out. Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a respected follower of spaceflight activities, said SpaceX had about 1,260 Starlink satellites in orbit before the Sunday mission.
The Starlink network could eventually contain more than 10,000 satellites, but the first installment of Starlinks would include 1,584 satellites orbiting 550 km above the earth on paths inclined 53 degrees from the equator. The 60 new satellites, which were launched on Wednesday, will deploy their solar panels and activate krypton-powered ion thrusters to increase their altitude before joining the Starlink network.
SpaceX has received FCC approval for approximately 12,000 Starlink satellites at various altitudes and miles, all of which are within a few hundred miles of the planet. The satellites’ low elevation allows customers to have high-speed connectivity and low latency, and helps the spaceship naturally return to the atmosphere faster than it would if it were to fly away from Earth.
Starlink already offers a temporary trial service in high latitude regions such as the northern United States, Canada, and England. The further launch of Starlink this year will enable the expansion of the coverage area.
SpaceX announced earlier this month that its Starlink pilot service will soon reach customers in Germany, New Zealand and other regions of the UK including Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England. SpaceX said these areas could receive trial service “in the coming weeks”.
SpaceX will accept pre-orders from prospective Starlink customers who can pay $ 99 to sign up for the Starlink service once it becomes available in their region. For people in the southern United States and other low-latitude regions, this should be done by the end of 2021, SpaceX says.
Once confirmed, customers will pay $ 499 for the Starlink antenna and modem, and $ 50 for shipping and handling, according to SpaceX. The subscription costs $ 99 per month.
Sixty Starlink Internet satellites have just been deployed from Falcon 9, bringing the number of Starlink spaceships launched by SpaceX to 1,385.
The satellites will deploy solar panels and deploy ion thrusters to reach an altitude of 550 kilometers. Https://t.co/XrCIW7t6vm pic.twitter.com/jlcdMUC9LP
– Spaceflight Now (SpaceflightNow) March 24, 2021
The Starlink satellites were built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, and each spaceship weighs about a quarter ton when launched. A fully loaded stack of 60 Starlink satellites weighs approximately 15.6 tons.
SpaceX has equipped newer versions of satellites with masks to reduce their brightness for people on Earth. Engineers changed the Starlink satellites last year after astronomers raised concerns that the spacecraft could destroy some of the telescope observations.
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